After a last-place finish at the First Coast Classic in February and a close mid-March loss to Southern Illinois, the Bradley women’s golf team began to hit its stride at the Diane Daugherty Invitational, earning themselves a fourth place finish out of 16 schools.
The invitational was March 30 and 31, and for head coach Halley Morell, those two days of competition proved to be a step in the right direction.
“I think we are finally starting to see a glimpse of what we can be,” Morell said. “It could have been better. We are still trying to refine a couple of things and minimize some mistakes, but I think we are pretty close to where we need to be to contend at the conference tournament in a couple of weeks.”
Although the Braves didn’t secure a team victory, senior Taylor Ledwein earned medalist honors by posting the lowest individual score of the tournament. Despite windy conditions, she finished eight strokes over par (221), including a career-low first round score of 67.
As a result of the individual victory, the New Prague, Minnesota native was named the Missouri Valley Conference golfer of the week for the eighth time in her career – becoming just the eighth to do so in conference history.
During the invitational, her approach revolved around “not getting upset” on a hole due to the weather conditions
“On some holes, if you got a bogey it felt like a par just because of how tough the conditions were,” Ledwein said. “Everyone has to play in them and my mindset was: one shot at a time.”
Alongside Ledwein, Bradley rolled out a lineup of sophomore Maya Flaherty (+20), junior Megan Welch (+24), junior Elyse Emerzian (+25) and senior Maddie Hawkins (+29). The five Braves combined for a score of 924, trailing only Illinois State (923), South Dakota (916) and tournament champions Arkansas State (914).
Morell attributed “team effort” to the strong performance.
“We really worked together as a team well,” Morell said. “When some of the girls had a bad round, someone else stepped up. They all contributed and counted towards our finish.”
Looking ahead, the Braves are slated to participate in the Jan Weaver Invitational beginning April 9 in Murray, Kentucky. With the Missouri Valley Conference Championship on the horizon – April 19-20 – Morell noted that the team is peaking at the right time.
“The team is excited about how they’re playing and we are definitely seeing what we can be, we are putting in some good work at practice and doing good things,” Morell said. “I’m glad we don’t have a break right now, because they’re excited to stay in that competition mode as we build up momentum.”